In 1969 the Kingsway operation moved to new studios in Euston Road next to the Euston Tower. This became the home of Thames current affairs, local news, schools programming, religious programming and most of the company’s admin and sales personnel. The building was officially known as ‘Thames Television House’. There were two main studios at Euston, plus a 200 sq ft continuity studio (Euston 4). The largest studio was Euston 5 at 59 x 30 ft wall to wall. Euston 6 was attached to studio 5 and was slightly less than 30 x 20 ft. The numbering began at ‘4’ as studios 1-3 were at Teddington. The studios opened using huge Marconi Mk VII colour cameras – not ideal in studios of this size.
Euston 7, which opened much later in autumn 1980, was 44 x 34 ft wall to wall. It was converted from a viewing theatre and was rigged permanently for Thames News – but a few Help! programmes with Joan Shenton were squeezed in. The studio was also used to produce promos for Thames and the network, as it had a small VO cubical. As it was separated by a public walkway from the other studio building a connecting bridge was built on the first floor. The studio itself, however, was on the ground floor. Rather surprisingly it had a large pillar in the centre of the studio. This was planned to be removed but at the last minute a structural engineer warned that the building would probably collapse so it was sensibly (if annoyingly for those who worked there) retained.
Below is an image from an old marketing brochure dated May 1986 that shows 6 attached to 5 but in the centre of the plan of 6 is printed ‘not available until further notice.’ Studio 6 was closed partly to create more space for lines and presentation areas where its galleries were originally situated on the first floor. The studio itself became used as a store room-come-scene dock. Originally, studio 6 was the home of the Today programme.
In the early 1980s the main studios were re-equipped with four Link 110 cameras each.
Regular shows made at Euston included The Time The Place, Good Afternoon with Mary Parkinson and Afternoon Plus with Mavis Nicholson and Elaine Grand. Amongst many other things, Bill Grundy’s infamous interview with the Sex Pistols took place in December ’76 during the Thames daily local news show – Today (’68 – ’77). Today was replaced by Thames at Six (’77 – 81) and then Thames News (’81 – ’92). Current Affairs programmes This Week (’68 – ’92) and TV Eye (’78 – ’86) were also based here.
It is perhaps a shame that the Today programme is only remembered for the one edition that took it off the air. Many people fondly remember Bill Grundy’s warm style and those who worked with him recall his professionalism. I have been told about the time when the guests had not arrived and none of the inserts were ready as the show went live. Fortunately there was a piano still in the studio from a music recording, so Bill just played the piano – he was said to be ‘a great bloke’.
Peter Thurlow, an ex-Thames sound man, informs me that studio 5 is where the Thames version of This is Your Life began. Despite its small size – it had an audience capacity of only 100 – several shows were made here, including some live ‘pick-ups’ where the guest was brought to the studio immediately following the hit. These included Lulu and Arthur Askey. The show itself was sometimes also live, following a live pickup. (Now that must have been scary!) Apparently Eamonn Andrews, the presenter, wanted a larger studio audience – hence the move out of the studio to the Royalty Theatre and Teddington.
Studio 5 produced many other programmes including Sooty (with Harry Corbett), Rainbow (mostly made in Teddington studio 3), This Week, Reporting London, Money Go Round (consumer prog, with Tony Bastable), Tea Break, What’s My Line (with Angela Rippon), Looks Familiar (with Dennis Norden) and Quick on the Draw – a cartoonists gameshow with Bill Tidy as the regular guest, hosted by Bob Monkhouse and later Michael Bentine. Rod Hull and Emu made a series here and Susan Stranks (ah yes – those of us of a certain age remember her…) presented no less than 182 editions of Paper Play – a show for young children with puppet spiders called Itsy and Bitsy.
Eamonn Andrews also presented a live late night money programme as well as Today and ‘Life’. Bank holiday sport programmes came from here presented by Dicky Davis (yes, Euston – not LWT), plus many other sport shows. There were also elections, the Seoul Olympics and many more. It was apparently one of the first studios to have a 30 line phone-in set up, which they called ‘The Fish Bowl’.
Euston Road studios also produced the daily Last Programme for many years. This was made by Thames Features and Religious Department. LWT also transmitted the show so it was unique in that it was the only Thames programme to go out at weekends.
Those who worked there were understandably proud of the amount of work that was transmitted on Thames TV that these two small studios produced. At one time they were said to have the highest live output of any studio in Europe.
The studios closed at the end of 1992 when the Thames franchise ended. The building however remained under long-term lease to Thames – which still existed as an independent production company. Brian Turner tells me that it took at least a year to clear it and move from 2,200 employees down to 120. During the period following the loss of the franchise Brian tells me that they started UK Gold from the old Thames News studio – Euston 7. The channel had the ground and first floors of Euston West and were there for at least a year. Eventually he got two parties – the BBC and Associated Newspapers – ready to take on the building.
However, unexpectedly British Land were forced to take the building back on November 5th 1994 as the area was to be redeveloped. The main part of the building was demolished in 1996. The space formally occupied by studios 5 and 6 is now an open square.